Canine Influenza has been diagnosed in the state of Minnesota. This is a respiratory virus in dogs that is not transmitted to humans. Dogs can get the influenza virus from direct contact with an infected dog that is coughing, gagging, retching, sneezing, or at an area that an affected dog has been within a short period of time. Any area that dogs meet are at risk for spreading the influenza virus such as dog parks, dog boarding facilities, dog daycare facilities, or grooming facilities, to name a few. Clinical signs of canine influenza can include coughing that can last for 10-30 days, nasal discharge, fever, increased respiratory rate, or lack of appetite. This disease is noted to be fatal in up to 1-5% of dogs depending on the strain and severity of illness. Canine influenza is diagnosed by a veterinarian who will collect several samples which may include swabs from the nose, throat, or a blood sample. If you suspect your pet may have a respiratory illness, it is best to call your veterinarian for an appointment as they will likely recommend you not bringing your pet inside the clinic, or they might have you keep your pet with you in an isolation area. This separation is to prevent the virus from infecting any other pets. Influenza is a virus so it does not respond to antibiotics. Treatment of canine influenza is typically supportive care that may include fluids, antibiotics to treat secondary infections, and in some situations anti-cough medications. You can try to keep your pet safe from this illness by avoiding high risk areas where large numbers of dogs group together. For dogs that do visit high risk areas or for dogs whose owners work with pets such as groomers, assistants, or dog walkers, a vaccine is available to help prevent canine influenza. The vaccine takes 24 days to be protective and requires 2 shots within 4 weeks’ time. If you would like additional information about canine influenza, contact your local veterinarian, or you can look up additional information at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Holly Lillegaard, DVM